Course Catalogue Description:
Political economy is a rapidly expanding and increasingly diverse field of inquiry in political science. This class has two purposes. First, it designed to introduce students to the analytical side of political economy – i.e., the use of economic assumptions and analysis to understand political and social. We will explore a school of thought commonly known as “rational choice” and its derivatives – decision theory, public choice, and game theory. “Rational choice” analysis is contrasted frequently with cultural and psychological perspectives on human behavior, though they are not necessarily incompatible. Second, we will also tackle a fundamental question underlying all political economy inquiries: How do humans allocate resources in society? We will compare and contrast decentralized (market) and centralized (hierarchy/government) methods of allocation. This course is taught with an eye to exploring the power of free markets and how government interference alters incentives.
Grading will be based upon a series of homework assignments (graded on a check-minus, check, and check-plus basis), section participation, and two midterm exams.
The learning goals of the course including learning the material presented in the course and developing an understanding of about three dozen economics concepts that can be applied in everyday life. There is a strong emphasis on developing an intuitive understanding of economics.
POL S 270 was voted UW's "Best Course" by the Panhellenic Association and Intrafraternal Council in 2013 and Prof. Gill received "Best Sense of Humor" and "Best School Spirit" in 2012 and 2011, respectively.